From 2005 to 2014, Rutgers’ football program had it made, appearing in 9 bowl games over the 10-season span, winning 6 of them. Unbeknownst to them, however, was that their 40-21 victory over North Carolina in the Gator Bowl in 2014 would be their last in nearly a decade.
Entering the game last week, Rutgers was sporting a record of 31-75, with no bowl victories to their name over the past 9 seasons. In fact, their only appearance in a bowl game came in 2021, when the Scarlet Knights were easily defeated by Wake Forest. After years of trial and error, Rutgers, now holding their best record since 2014, was looking to finally earn another bowl game victory.
Rutgers’ path to victory would not be an easy one, as they had to take on the 7-5 Miami Hurricanes who had defeated schools such as Texas A&M and Clemson earlier in the season. The Scarlet Knights were leaning on their not-so secret weapon, Kyle Monangai, to lead them to victory, as he was far and away the team’s best offensive player.
Monangai, who was born in Roseland, graduated from Don Bosco Prep in 2020, committing to spend the next 4 years at Rutgers. In those 4 years, he would blossom into a superstar, becoming the first Rutgers player to rush for 1000 yards in a season since 2012.
The game would turn out to be a nail-biter with Rutgers winning by a score of 31-24, with Kyle Monangai being the leading factor behind the win. He rushed for 163 yards on 25 carries and recorded a rushing touchdown, while also racking up 17 receiving yards on 2 receptions. The dominant performance on the ground was enough to earn Monangai the honor of being crowned Pinstripe Bowl MVP.
Rutgers victory over Miami on Thursday earned them their first Pinstripe Bowl victory since 2011, when they took down Iowa State. The program has seen a steady incline under the leadership of Coach Greg Schiano and looks to improve even more next year. The Scarlet Knights will not be without their star player in 2024, as Monangai recently announced his plans to return to Rutgers for a 5th year, where he looks to help the program even more.